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Research prepared for Parliament

Sustainable Development Scrutiny

Sustainable development means the development of societies which can survive and prosper in the long term.  The concept emerged when people began to realise that some types of economic activity were harming societies and the environment.

For a number of years the Scottish Parliament has been working towards using sustainable development as a lens for parliamentary scrutiny.  Our aim is to support more holistic consideration of public policy, draft legislation and budget proposals, so as to increase policy coherence.

One of the ways we are doing this is through our sustainable development impact assessment (SDIA) tool.  This is a discursive tool, designed to help users engage with a subject and unpack it through group discussion, leading to a deeper and broader analysis.

As well as supporting more rigorous scrutiny, the tool can help with other types of decision-making processes, such as developing procurement contracts or managing facilities.


This is the recommended version of our SDIA tool for those external to the Scottish Parliament. Version 2.3 of the tool gives equal weight to the various aspects of sustainable development


This is the recommended version of our SDIA tool for use in the Scottish Parliament – on scrutiny and corporate/operational matters. Version 3 of the tool includes some added focus on topics central to the Scottish Parliament’s strategic plan – human rights, equalities, climate change and participation.


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